In a city as inexhaustibly diverse and adventure filled as New York, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world just beyond the five boroughs. But on those occasions when you crave an out-of-town excursion, a slice of small-town life or a brush with nature, the options are endless. Here are 10 quick escapes just outside of NYC.
Although the famous Woodstock music festival took place 40mi (63km) away in Bethel, NY, its namesake town is still a haven for artsy types seeking weekend retreats with a rock’n’roll edge. As expected, the cool kids from New York City have made their mark – look for the nearby Graham & Co., owned and creatively decorated by Brooklyn-based designers. However, that old-school hippy style still perseveres in the form of tie-dyed T-shirts and faint whiffs of patchouli.
Casual weekend hikes are synonymous with the West Coast, but that’s not to say that New Yorkers don’t lace up their sneakers and hit the trails occasionally. Breakneck Ridge is – as the name suggests – not for the unfit or unadventurous (the first 45 minutes are basically an all-fours scramble up some very uncooperative terrain), but the views on the climb are plenty rewarding. If the sparkling, forest-lined Delaware River isn’t enough to encourage you, the promise of an icy beer and some artisan shopping at the finish line may be. Cold Spring Apothecary offers small-batch, botanical-based skin, hair and medicinal products that you won’t find at your local CVS.
With 500 acres (202ha) of looming, large-scale sculptures, you should assemble some friends, pack a picnic and spend the best part of the day exploring and discovering the best modern and contemporary sculptures at the Storm King Art Center. It is only about an hour outside of New York City, and if you time it right, your visit may coincide with a summer concert or poetry reading.
Summer Fridays – when everybody packs up and leaves at lunchtime in search of respite from the steamy city temperatures – are definitely a “thing” in New York. Sure, the Hamptons are the most scenic coastal option, but Fire Island, with its sleepy towns and pretty stretches of protected beach, is the place to be if you need a proper vacation from city living. The barrier island stretches for 32mi (51km) and is less than 1mi (1.6km) wide. It’s divided into approximately 17 “communities,” each with a different agenda – from LGBTQ-friendly Cherry Grove to party-hearty Kismet or isolated Atlantique. If you visit during the off-season, you’ll have the picturesque, wind-whipped beaches all to yourself.
The 330mi (531km) Delaware River crosses four states before meeting the Atlantic Ocean near Cape May, New Jersey. Along the stretch that curves through New York’s leafy Catskills region, some fun-loving geniuses (including the guys at Lander’s River Trips) decided to open canoeing and tubing operations. If you’re feeling active, strap on a life vest and pick the rapids route.
There are plenty of quaint villages situated along the Hudson River, but none can compete with the namesake town itself. Hudson, NY, has long been a go-to commuter locale for Brooklyn and Manhattan residents who are over big-city chaos but not big-city cuisine. Stay in the Hudson Milliner, a stylish 19th-century hat-shop-turned-boutique-guesthouse, and spend a weekend grazing at foodie haunts Red Dot Restaurant & Bar and Fish & Game.
Once you arrive on the North Fork peninsula, you’ll wonder why more people don’t make the hour-and-a-half journey to Long Island’s wine region. Although the town’s wineries excel at producing sauvignon blanc, riesling and merlot, rosé fans haven’t been overlooked – Croteaux Vineyards specializes in pink tipple tastings. Sample its unique varieties in a rustic 1800s carriage house or (on warm-weather days) the pebbled courtyard shaded by cherry blossom trees.
Along with the Whitney and MoMA, Dia:Beacon should be on your culture hit list. Part of the Dia Art Foundation’s constellation of sites, this old Nabisco box-printing factory houses works dating from the 1960s to the present. Past exhibitions have included installations that were “site-conditioned” to engage with the museum’s architecture and lighting.
It’s easy to forget that where the urban jungle ends, the wilderness begins. The Adirondacks are vast, beautiful and serene – the perfect landscape for exploring by foot, canoe or skis. They also host some famously idyllic camping spots, and for New Yorkers who like to buffer nature with a little home comfort, Camp Orenda’s canvas cabins fit the bill. Each abode comes with rustic decor (think wooden beds with cozy comforters, tree-stump nightstands and wood-burning stoves) and convenient electrical outlets to keep your iPhone charged and the Spotify jams playing. While you’re in the area, swing by Wild Walk. Known as a “High Line for the Forest,” this elevated trail through the foliage of Tupper Lake facilitates up-close-and-personal encounters with the region’s intriguing trees and creatures.
Situated in the beautiful Berkshire countryside, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a great place for rejuvenation and holistic education. As the largest retreat center in the country, it is renowned for offering world-class yoga teacher and nutritional trainings but is also the perfect place to leave city stress behind. Try the R&R Retreat – a customized stay that includes a flexible schedule of classes (yoga, meditation and self-improvement), outdoor activities and quality downtime.